<< Home Page | Caxton Index

Aesop's Fables: Caxton (1484)

3.13. Of the wulues and of the sheep
(Perry 153)

Whanne men haue a good hede / and a good defensour / or a good Capitayne / men oughte not to leue hym / for he that leueth hym repenteth hym afterward of hit / as to vs reherceth this fable / Of the sheep whiche had were and discencion with the wolues / And by cause that the wulues made to stronge werre ageynst the sheep / the shepe thenne tooke for theyr help the dogges / and the whethers also / And thenne was the bataylle of the sheep so grete and so stronge / & fought so vygorously agenst the wolues. that they put them to flyght / And whanne the wolues sawe the strengthe of theyr aduersaryes / they sent an ambassade toward the sheep for to trete the pees with them / the whiche Ambassade sayd to the sheep in this maner / yf ye wylle gyue vs the dogges / we shalle swere vnto yow oure feythe / that we shalle neuer kepe ne hold werre ageynst yow / And the sheep ansuerd / yf ye wylle gyue vs yur fayth / we shalle be content / And thus they made pees to gyder / but the wulues kyld the dogges / whiche were the capytayns and protectours of the sheep / And the dogges dyde but lytyll hurte to the wulues / wherfore whanne the lytyl and yong wulues were growen in theyr age / they came of eche part and countrey / and assembled them to gyder / and all of one accord and wylle sayd to theyre Auncestres and faders / we must ete vp alle the sheep / And theyr faders ansuerd thus to them / we haue maade pees with them / Neuertheles the yonge wolues brake the pees and ranne fyersly vpon the sheep / and theyr faders wente after them / And thus by cause that the sheep had delyuerd the dogges to the wolues / the whiche were theyr capitayns / and that they had none that kepte them / they were all eten and deuoured of the wulues /
Therfore hit is good to kepe well his capytayne / whiche may at a nede gyue socour and helpe / For a trewe frend is better at a nede than a Royalme / For yf the sheep had kepte the loue of the dogges / the wolues had neuer deuoured them / wherfore it is a sure thynge to kepe wel the loue of his protectour and good frende /

Caxton published his edition of Aesop's fables in 1484. There are modern reprints by Joseph Jacobs (D. Nutt: London, 1889) and more recently by Robert Lenaghan (Harvard University Press: Cambridge, 1967). Lenaghan's edition is available at amazon.com.